June 2008 Issue
Home decor goes to the dogs (and cats).
In some homes, believe it or not, pets are encouraged to lazily lounge on the furniture, without fear of being shooed away. That’s because the furniture – think chaise lounges, sectional sofas and sleigh beds – is designed specifically for pets, not people.
“Things have changed so much,” says Cynthia Waldenmaier, owner of Hyde Bark Fashions, an upscale dog boutique located in the Hyde Park neighborhood of Cincinnati. “Long gone are the days when dogs were banished to their doghouses in the backyard. Now, they are living in the lap of luxury, sleeping on custom-ordered dog beds with fabric to match the decor.”
Pet owners are spending more money than ever to pamper their furry companions, according to the 2008 “Pet Products Trend Report,” published by the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association.
The lavish pampering often extends to designing pet-friendly areas in many of the 71 million U.S. households with pets. For some, it may be as simple as installing a grooming station in a mudroom or garage to wash off muddy paws before they track debris through the house. For others, the renovations are much more extensive.
Mitch Shaheen shares his Pepper Pike home with five greyhounds that have been rescued or have special needs. He also shares his home with his daughter, Cara, and her two cats, Ashley and Harley. Realizing that the cats could be in danger from the greyhounds, which have been trained to chase small, furry animals, Shaheen came up with a clever solution.
He converted a large sunroom into a “cattery” — complete with a 4-by-8-foot cat house that he designed and built with a friend. Now, all of the pets can safely and peacefully co-exist in the house, says Shaheen, co-owner of the Barkley Pet Hotel & Day Spa in Orange Village, a Cleveland suburb.
“I knew what they needed,” says Shaheen. “I built them a big, cozy house with ledges and cat trees and three different carpeted levels. This is their area. The sunroom is for the cats only, and the dogs have run of the rest of the house.”
The cattery also features two feeding stations and a separate area for the litter boxes, located away from the separate sleeping area, Shaheen says. In addition, the cats enjoy napping on a human-sized couch in the sunroom and watching birds outside the room’s large windows.
Waldenmaier, a former interior designer, knows what she’s talking about when it comes to pet-friendly design and décor. She designed a “dog suite” — a luxurious room just for dogs — that will be showcased as part of Greater Cincinnati’s Homearama this year, June 7–22. The house, built by custom home builder Tim Hensley, features a bathtub grooming station in the garage and other amenities designed for the two dogs that will eventually live in the home with their owners.
Calling the design both “fabulous and functional,” Waldenmaier says the 10-by-12-foot space will feature a traditional color palette of black, ecru and tan. A chair rail around the room separates plaid wallpaper on the lower half, which is designed to hide potential damage from the dogs (or their toys) banging into the walls, while the upper half will be painted tan. Artwork featuring several breeds of dogs will adorn the walls.
A faux-stone tile in earth tones was chosen to help hide muddy paw prints. The open floor plan is divided into a sleeping, lounging and dining areas. The sleeping area features two dog beds with black headboards, footboards and sideboards. The finishing touch is a giant paw-print cut-out on the headboard.
The dog suite’s lounging area features a scaled-down sectional L-shaped sofa covered in a durable and washable micro-fiber fabric. A miniature black wooden wardrobe provides ample storage for collars, leashes, sweaters and doggie toys, while a matching wardrobe in the dining area stores dog food and treats. And of course, no dog suite would be complete without a flat-screen TV, showing episodes of “Puppy Bowl” and other doggie DVD favorites.
“We wanted to make it great for the dogs below and great for the people up above,” says Waldenmaier. “This room looks like you’re walking into a nice hotel. And yet, other people might use these ideas to make a ‘dog corner’ in their laundry room or family room to fit their lifestyle.”
Items for the room were ordered and shipped from both coasts, says Waldenmaier, who regularly travels across the country attending pet-related trade and industry shows. Even before starting a new career with Hyde Bark, Walden-maier had noticed upscale pet furnishings being offered at trade shows for interior designers. IKEA and Pottery Barn offer bedding options, while online retailers feature scores of bedding and furniture options, including a Harlequin Pom-Poms Bed for $1,400 offered by GlamourDog (www.glamourdog.com).
“Pet beds come in every size, description and style,” Waldenmaier says. “You can have a very functional and beautiful bed. You don’t have to settle for a lumpy, ugly pillow on the floor. They even have beds for dogs with arthritis, along with heating and cooling beds.”
In recent years, Waldenmaier has
noticed a marked change in how people are treating their pets. In many cases, pets are considered “fur-children” and are pampered accordingly, she says.
“More people are doing things like this for their pets because their pets are so important in their lives,” she says. “They treat their pets like family.”